The list of pros and cons for online education is long, and it’s something we’ve written about before on Supporting Education. Whether for better or worse, it’s looking more and more like technology and online education will play a vast role in education of the future. Such a future was only solidified more earlier this week when Google’s new investment arm, Google Capital, laid down $40 million for a minority stake in Renaissance Learning Inc.
Renaissance Learning is a cloud-based education software company owned by Pemira Advisors, a British private equity firm. It’s based in Wisconsin and provides reading and assessment tools to some 20 million teachers and students in 60 countries. Using Renaissance, K-12 students can communicate with teachers online or via mobile devices and are able to improve both reading and math skills.
This isn’t the first time Google’s invested heavily in education; last year, Google Capital participated in a $125 million investment in LendingClub Corp., which allows for peer-to-peer loans.
“They have people all over the country, interacting with the schools,” says David Lawee, who manages the Google Capital unit. “A lot of people are talking about disruption in education, but these guys are actually doing it.”
Renaissance Learning calls itself “a world leader in cloud-based assessment, teaching, and learning solutions with over 900 employees and customers in over one-third of U.S. schools and more than 60 countries worldwide.”
Originally founded by Judy and Terry Paul, Renaissance’s roots are deep. Judy Paul developed Accelerated Reader in 1984, and after successfully testing the program on their children, Terry and Judy began marketing to schools. After AR, requests came in for professional development trainings, which Renaissance then developed. The addition of Accelerated Math and STAR (Math and Reading) expanded the company even further. After three decades, Renaissance is still alive and well—and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon.